March 31, 2017 (Vol. 6, Issue 11)

This Edition

  • “Donut” Holes Under the Dome
  • The Budget: Show Me the Money
  • Busy Bees in D.C.
  • Bills of Importance
  • It’s About Us

"Donut" Holes Under the Dome

Even before the 85th Legislative session began in January, members were concerned about a tight budget.  We already know that budgets are tight because our budget is tight – which is different from the hundreds of lobbyists under the dome who have deep pockets. With that fact in mind, DCCCD officials dropped by a few Senate Finance and House Appropriations members’ offices to chat and to share a tasty breakfast treat.

DCCCD launched a “donut” holes day at the Capitol, asking legislators: “Donut” forget us.

We launched a DCCCD “donut” holes day at the Capitol. Wait – did you say “donut” holes? Yes, we’re talking about those tasty treats of which a person can have one or two – or even six! Our goal was to thank members for their hard work while asking them to “donut” forget us during the budget process. We believe the state should properly fund higher education, workforce programs and small business development centers. The first round of DCCCD “donut” holes day comprised visits to 30 offices, but we can’t do this alone.

Fresh bags of “donut” holes appeared in Capitol offices.

This week, both the House Higher Education and the Senate Higher Education committees held hearings. You can learn more about which bills were heard, who testified and what’s in the committee minutes at the House link and Senate link.

The Senate is adjourned until 12:30 p.m. on Monday, April 3. The House is adjourned until 2 p.m. next Monday as well.

The Budget: Show Me The Money

This week both chambers focused part of their time on the state budget. Based on the Texas Constitution, legislators truly have one job, and that’s to pass a budget. On the Senate side, the full Senate passed a budget by a 31-0 vote. However, this doesn’t mean all Senate Republicans and Democrats agreed on how to spend the money. Their budget appropriates approximately $217 billion.  

The House Appropriations committee passed a budget of approximately $218 billion, which is slightly lower than their initial proposal, and which would dip into the never-tapped Rainy Day Fund. It seeks to withdraw $2.5 billion to help meet budget demands. The full House will vote on the budget next week.

What does all of this activity mean? Differences exist between the proposals for both chambers. As we’ve seen during previous sessions, once the full House passes a budget, its version more than likely will not mirror the Senate’s version. When that situation occurs, a conference committee will be appointed to negotiate the final details.

Busy Bees in D.C.

Where do we begin the discussion about activities in D.C.?

Last week, Republicans withdrew the House vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Didn’t they have the votes? Leading up to the vote, President Donald Trump and Press Secretary Sean Spicer felt confident they had the votes because  they control the majority in the House. As you know, it didn’t work out that way. Related articles were aired or published here: CNBC, New York Times, Speaker Ryan Press Conference on the Vote. Are you a political junkie? Here’s a cheap plug and sneak peek from last week’s political show The Circus.

Wednesday marked one month before the government could potentially shut down. Did you say the government will close? Is it a holiday? No, it’s not a holiday. Instead, a potential funding gap could cause the U.S. government to stop operating. Congress will have until April 28 to pass a budget or a continuing resolution. By the way…we forgot to mention that Congress has a two-week break in the middle of April.

What about Russia? It’s still an ongoing circus which has taken on a life of its own. This week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Richard Burr and ranking member Mark Warner, stood together and vowed to investigate any potential Russian involvement. What about the House investigation? The House has come across a few issues. Related articles include: Albuquerque Journal, Houston Chronicle, Washington Post.

The Bills

Listed below are bills of importance to DCCCD. We will track these and other bills that may have an impact on our district during the legislative session. You can view those House and Senate bills by visiting our site.

  • Funding for community colleges
    • We are seeking $1.834 billion in general revenue for core operations, student success and instruction for community colleges.
    • Our community colleges have grown 62 percent since 2000.
  • Early childhood education: Sen. West, SB 534; Rep. Giddings, HB 971
    • SB 534 has been referred to Higher Education Committee.
    • The Dallas County job market is experiencing a shortage of more than 4,000 early childhood educators.
    • The bill will offer the choice of a quality, affordable bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
    • It supports the governor’s mission of a quality pre-kindergarten.
    • This goal can be achieved without adding a fiscal cost for the state.
  • Workforce development: “Recruit Texas” Rep. Alvarado, HB 108
    • On Thursday, March 23, it was heard in committee and left pending.
    • HB 108 has been referred to the Economic and Small Business Development Meeting.
    • We want to ensure that Texas remains competitive and is the #1 place for economic development and workforce training.
    • “Recruit Texas” redirects current funds within the Texas Workforce Commission.
    • The program can include assessment, employee recruitment, safety training and leadership development.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
    • For every $1 invested in TX SBDC, $5.85 in tax revenue is generated.
    • Statewide there are four SBDC lead offices, one is housed at the Dallas County Community College District.
    • SBDC conducts research, counsels and trains business people in managing, financing and operating small businesses.
    • SBDC plays a pivotal role in driving the Texas economy by creating jobs and generating revenue for the state. We believe in keeping the Texas economy strong by funding SBDC.

As always, please feel free to contact our office with any questions.

It's About Us

Budgets are under discussion, and intense negotiating between the House and the Senate will begin soon. Higher education and small business and development centers are taking a financial hit, and we need your help. How? Glad you asked! Visit Who Represents Me and enter your address to see your state Representative and state Senator’s names. You can always reach out to them and ask them to support funding for community colleges and small business development centers.